Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

D&D 5e Starter Set Trial Preview



A-ha, so Tuesday I duly received my D&D 5e Starter Set via Amazon and after the standard* passionate unveiling of the shrink-wrap set down to digest the material.

Now, next week we are taking the kids (ha, all in their twenties) up to the Sierra Mountains for a couple nights, so I figure I can finagle a couple or more to join in a game with the new edition.

My plan is to use just what came in the box (which means sharing dice), and I realized the lack of miniatures/tokens/tactical maps is actually pretty old school.

We video-taped to varying degrees 26 sessions of our D&D gaming group from 1990 through 1996. I've been going through the process of transferring the decaying (& decedent) tapes to digital. At least through early '93 tapes I was amazed to see that we rarely used miniatures! We had a decent collection of lead minis since probably the early 80s which grew exponentially when our FLGS (Pleasanton Hobbies in Mission Plaza) went out of business in 1986 and sold their supplies at liquidation rates. But even though we had the miniatures available, we tended to combat based on verbal descriptions and the occasional hastily-scrawled map.

In the days of Holmes Basic and the earliest iterations of our AD&D we played exactly the same way.

My brain was all pickled from '95 up to '04, so I had this epiphany that perhaps we really didn't use miniatures all that much until I got sober and started the v.3.5 Wilderlands campaign in November 2005. I had been away from my friends and the game for about two years and in the lead up to Wilderlands I kind of reconstructed what I "thought" was the style we played, picking up oodles of the pre-painted plastic D&D brand miniatures (mostly by using 30%-40%-50% off Borders coupons multiple times which I don't think the company intended, but they worked and I probably wasn't the only one re-printing them ergo didn't help their bottom line any...).

I purchased a set of 12 Tact-Tiles in the original iteration which we used for the Wilderlands campaign (strangely enough, there is a current Kickstarter going on to produce dungeon "Tact-Tiles" again), the effect of being able to modularly expand forever the tactical/mini-scaled map meant that entire dungeons we progressed through via miniatures. I remember toward the end of that campaign going back to mapping on paper unless there was an encounter, and definitely that is my process for our current campaign.

Thus that brings me to the new 5e Starter Set lacking minis/tokens/tactical maps. I am not going to add them. I decided to just use pencil and paper (not even graph paper!) and run the module just as it is out of the box. Could be interesting! I will post a follow up after the game...



* This is in actuality only the second starter set I've purchased for myself at release. Holmes Basic Set ('78) we first gamed with was a birthday/X-mas gift to our DM, I skipped the Moldvay ('81), Mentzer ('83), and Denning/Brown ('91) versions altogether, purchased the Tweet ('04) version for my son, missed the simplified Tweet ('06), bought and ran the 4e Starter Set ('08, a banner year for me), and purchased the 4e Red Box ('10) for my niece - although technically that is mine because my brother forbade me to gift it to her so I eventually opened the box, but long after the release date.

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